Feinberg takes over BP’s Gulf spill fund

KENNETH Feinberg, the man appointed to independently run BP’s $20bn (£12.8bn) escrow fund, has pledged to ensure that individual claimants who have suffered financially from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill receive speedy payment in a bid to deter them from entering into lengthy litigation.

Feinberg, who is nicknamed the “pay czar”, said his goal will be to pay individual claims linked to the Gulf disaster within 48 hours of the claim being finalised, while businesses will see compensation in seven days.

The fund, which was officially launched yesterday, will be open to anyone who has taken a financial hit from the spill, according to Feinberg, who said that claimants could see more generous treatment through the fund than if they turn to the courts.

“The goal here is to try and explain to eligible claimants: ‘It is not in your interest to tie up yourself and the courts in years of uncertain protracted litigation when ... there is a more efficient quick alternative,” said Feinberg.

During the next six months, said Feinberg, claimants can also launch legal action against BP at a future date but will be forced to waive their rights to sue beyond this time period.

The move has been called “unfair” by some, who have accused Feinberg of favouring BP.

BP set up the escrow account in June as a result of concentrated pressure from the US government.
Obama’s administration appointed Feinberg to independently run the fund after he administered compensation payments to victims of the 11 September terrorist attacks.

The oil major made a $3bn injection into the fund earlier this month, marking the first of many.